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Teff Grass as Alternative Forage for Horses

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Bermudagrass has long been popular as forage for horses, but teff grass has potential as an alternative. Teff is not only palatable for the horses but they’ve shown some preference for it in certain situations, according to a study at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Teff has become popular in the western United States as a horse forage but not yet in the rest of the nation. “There seems to be indecision about it as far as I can tell,” said Ken Coffey, an animal science professor who supervised the study. “It’s getting easier to get seed for it now than in the past, so more people are trying it under different conditions to see if it will work or not.” The researchers compared horses’ preference for teff at four different growth stages with that of Bermudagrass harvested at two maturity stages. The results showed that the horses preferred the teff grass harvested at vegetative growth stages over even vegetative Bermudagrass.

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Top Herd Health Problems, Natural Solutions

by Jerri Brunetti

The following reports are based on the gleanings of a number of animal owners who have utilized “traditional” methods on their livestock herd with various rates of success. These suggestions/reports have not been evaluated by the U.S. FDA and are not intended to act as a substitute for proper professional care, i.e. the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and prescriptions provided by licensed veterinarians. If your livestock suffers from any malady or health condition always consult with your veterinarian before utilizing any alternative methods of products.

Mastitis

Remove grain from diet; forages only. Herbs to be given orally per day: 2 bulbs garlic, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 ounce thyme, 1 ounce common sage. Half given in the morning and half in the evening. Use stimulating liniment (such as white liniment or Vicks on udder); milk out frequently (every couple of hours). Continue Reading →

Integrating Sheep into Organic Production

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Using domestic sheep rather than traditional farming equipment to manage fallow and terminate cover crops may enable farmers who grow organic crops to save money, reduce tillage, manage weeds and pests and reduce the risk of soil erosion, according to Montana State University and North Dakota State University researchers.

The preliminary results are from the first two years in a long-term USDA research, education and extension project, which is showing several environmental and economic benefits for an integrated cropping and livestock system, according to Perry Miller, MSU professor of land resources and environmental sciences.

The project featured a reduced-till organic system, where faculty researchers used domestic sheep to graze farmland for cover crop termination and weed control. Placing sheep at the heart of the project helped MSU scientists find out that an integrated cropping system that uses domestic sheep for targeted grazing is an economically feasible way of reducing tillage for certified organic farms. Continue Reading →

Integrating Poultry into Multi-Species Operations

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With the right tools for alternative feeding systems and pasture enrichment, farmers can successfully incorporate poultry into free-range, multi-species pasture or agroforestry production, based on the results of a USDA-ARS Arkansas study. The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE)-funded project, “Integrating Free Range Poultry with Ruminant and Agroforestry Production in a Systems Approach,” examines the various ways pasture can be used as a resource in ecological poultry production.

“In ecological poultry production, using a pasture resource effectively can be key to sustainability. You can use the pasture to its full benefits, but the challenge for farmers is to know how to do it,” said Anne Fanatico, an assistant professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

Fanatico and her colleagues looked at alternative feeding systems, parasite control and pasture enrichment.

“When integrating poultry with other animal species on pasture or agroforestry systems, high-quality forage can be an important source of nutrients for poultry, but the birds also need a concentrated source of feed, particularly energy feed because they do not ferment fiber like ruminant animals do,” said Fanatico.

The researchers studied two feeding systems: free-choice feed and choice feeding as an alternative to fully formulated diets that can make use of the pasture resource.

In the choice feeding studies, researchers found that birds on a fully formulated diet gained more weight than those on a choice feeding diet. However, feed efficiency in the choice feeding diet was greater and was less expensive.

This report appears in the May 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Book Review: Tales from the Industrial Pork Complex

Pig Tales Book Review

Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat by Barry Estabrook

Book Review:  Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for
Sustainable Meat

by Barry Estabrook, review by Chris Walters

“One Iowa pig accosted her owner in a pasture, and through grunts and nudges, led him to a barn where she had just given birth. The farmer assumed she was showing off her brood, but when he turned to leave after congratulating her on her nice piglets, she blocked his way, then walked over to her automatic watering spigot. She activated it, but no water came out. Even though he had never touched the spigot in her presence, the sow knew he would be able to fix it.”

Barry Estabrook’s previous book told the story of tomatoes, a source of nutrition with no observable capacity for learning. Despite the horrors of the labor abuses documented in that work (Tomatoland), and despite the arguably more egregious labor abuses documented here in the chapters on slaughterhouse workers, it is the pigs themselves that raise the stakes in Pig Tales. Described by a researcher as roughly equivalent to a bright three-year-old toddler, pigs generate anecdotes like the one above all the time. Their high level of sentience, illustrated by their feats of memory and intuition, throw into bold relief the ill treatment they’ve received at the hands of people. Putting to one side the matter of killing and eating them, for centuries we heaped opprobrium on pigs merely because they like to roll in dirt, a habit that makes sense, it’s more or less in their natural context. Nevertheless understandable that we made their name synonymous with slothful, disgusting behavior. When we really added gross injury to insult was the last few years, when we devised novel and innovative ways of torturing them. Continue Reading →

Ordering Chicks: Tips for Adding the Right Birds to Your Flock

Chicks

The normal, as-hatched ratio is six cockerel chicks for every four pullet chicks hatched. Photo by Scott David Gordon

Ordering chicks, for most of us, means that spring comes early in the poultry world. Here in Missouri we start planning out the mating groups in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The hatchery catalogs start arriving a week or so after Christmas. It was once tradition to start the pullet chicks in February to have them sorted and laying for the fall and winter months when eggs would normally post seasonal highs.

That box or two of chicks that arrives during the traditional hatching season, mid-February through early June, are so much more than the little bits of fluff they first appear to be. I sometimes wonder if everyone fully understands what awaits beneath the lids of such boxes.

Too many folks flip through a catalog or stand before the little pens at a farm supply store and buy some of those because they’re cute, some of the “funny” colored ones, and others because they recognize the breed name or because their grandparents had some of them. Bits and pieces are alright when piecing together a quilt, but a poultry flock, to be successful, must be built with a plan and a uniformity of vision. Continue Reading →